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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2012 12th Release

Average score from 10 reviews and 12 ratings 89

Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2012 12th Release

Product details

  • Brand: Lagavulin
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 56.1%
  • Age: 12 year old
  • Bottled: 2012

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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2012 12th Release

This is a fun lineup. I’ve got the 2011 and the 2012 Lagavulin 12 year old cask strengths side by side. Not that it’s a competition or anything… Here are my thoughts on the 2012 release. This bottle has been opened for about three weeks. Usually I give it a bit more time than that, but these Laga 12 bottles tend to peak pretty early.

Nose: A very maritime nose, with crisp, clean scents. Heavy brine, honey, intense peat, seaweed, grass, and faint butterscotch.

Palate: As expected, this is a paced, controlled arrival. Some tangy citrus, honey, woodspice, heavy peat, salt, leather, and chocolate.

Finish: Long and well structured. Leather, dried grass, dry oak, salt, sea water, peat bog, peppermint, minerals, and citrus.

Thoughts: Yeah, it’s good, but it’s not all I’d hoped. Good control, with a paced arrival and big flavours. However this will inevitably get compared to its siblings. Unfortunately this is the least interesting of the 12 year old CS releases I’ve tried. The 2011 has such density, character, and kick. It’s dynamic and punchy; I love it. Comparatively, the 2012 is on the simpler side. Less complexity, less intensity, and less dynamism. So much so that it’s a full eight points lower than the wonderful 2011. Yes, it’s still a good whisky. But if you want to try Laga 12, I suggest looking for a different vintage. 87 may be a good score, but I’ll admit I’m disappointed with this one.

Hah! Personally I prefer using my hands to remove the cork, but to each his own.

No, haven't tried anything earlier than the 2011, but I've heard nothing but good things about both the 2010 and the 2009 releases.

Have you tried the 2010? I'm sitting on one of those.


Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pale with a golden hue.

Nose: Initially sharp and eye-stinging as expected with a CS whisky, but after 5 minutes, the peat really comes through, slight cinnamon, sweet mint, salty ocean breeze, a touch medicinal, lemon citrus, grassy, never loses the spiciness. With water: the peat is muted initially, but comes back almost with a vengeance after several minutes.

Palate: For what the nose promises, the delivery is surprisingly subtle, mild at first and then the tingling spreads like a chain reaction, dancing on the tongue and softly playing the bongos on your lips. Sweet, peppery, minty, peaty, ocean mist, oak and ash. With water: Dulls the tingling slightly. grassy, sea breeze.

Finish: Long and steady, intense warmth. Smoke and smoke, oak, ash, mint, cinnamon. With water: slows down the pace at which the warmth unwinds itself.

A beautifully well-balanced cask-strength whisky; nothing stands out individually at any stage of the tasting process, except for the peat, which really dominates the nose after 5-8 minutes of sitting (before water, of course).


This is a bottle I have had open for approx. 8 months now and just reaching the end of it. Notes are all with just a few drops of water, but still keeping the abv high.

It is a much lighter coloured malt than the 16yo, thereby slightly more reassuring that there is no colouring in it.

Nose: This is more on the peaty rather than smokey side when compared to the 16yo. It has a prominent dry saltiness about it but tempered with a strong layer of sweetness. Notes of salty liquorice before it opens up revealing more traditional medicinal and seaweed hints. It's actually fairly close to a Laphroaig profile.

Palate: More of the same on the palate. A massive hit of salty peat, with seaweed layered throughout. But it also has a fairly thick sweetness too, which kind of makes it reminiscent of salty caramel. It evolves into more of a smokey sweet dram over time.

Finish: As expected very dry, with alternating sweet/bitter hints that linger.

The 16yo is smoother and more restrained. This is more of a powerful bruiser. It's a decent hitter and a cask strength Lagavulin is always welcome.

The price however - I paid about £60-odd earlier this year which I thought was a bit on the high side. I've just checked the 2014 edition which is now at £80! Personally I think that is vastly overpriced for a 12yo whisky. Perhaps I'm behind the times with current prices, but £50-£55 would seem much fairer. This being the main area it has lost points in.

@OlJas, there is no substitute for you tasting the Lag 12 for yourself. Different year releases do vary. Almost everyone likes the 2010, 2011, and 2013. The 2012 release was a little less intense and has many fans, but also quite a few detractors, as you can see.

Around here Lag 12 has seasonal periodic availability. Sometimes it can be had here for as little as $ 60 plus tax, but $ 90-100 is more the norm. It's a little pricey, but very worthwhile. It just tastes different from Laphroaig CS, for sure. "Better" or "worse"? For me I like the best of Lag 12 (e.g. 2010) slightly more than most batches of Laphroaig 10 CS, MOST OF THE TIME. Individual mood is the determinant as to which I would prefer at any given time. So, to me, "better or worse?" is meaningless in this context. I would always want and choose to have the option of both of these products available to me all the time to fit the range of moods and contexts in which I would choose to drink them.

I consider Laphroaig 10 CS (together with Ardbeg Ten) the best peaty value for money out there, as do quite a few other people.

Well I'd love to taste the Lagavulin 12 for myself, but to do so will cost me $100, which is a 66% premium over the $60 Laphroaig. They seem pretty similar and of pretty comparable quality, so the Lagavulin is feeling like a rip-off to me.

I know that part of the Lagavulin's draw for me is the brand, as I started saying above. The bottles look great and there's an inviting mystique around Lagavulin that you (I) want to be part of. Having the bottle on my bar would make me feel a little awesome. Sad, but I admit it.

Also, I'm a fan of peat & Islay in general, and I feel like I'm always skipping over Lagavulin as I make my rounds. Most other Islay distilleries have a bottle that I feel good about buying:

•Ardbeg: Ten or Corryvreckan

•Bowmore: (OK, I guess Bowmore is also lacking an obvious choice, though I'm keen to try a Dorus Mor or a CS IB. Bowmore is the Islay distillery that I'm most likely to forget about.)

•Bruichladdich: Any Port Charlotte

•Bunnahabhain: A peated IB

•Caol Ila: A cask strength IB

•Kilchoman: Machir Bay, I guess. I thought it was totally decent and only slightly overpriced.

•Laphroaig: QC or CS

•Lagavulin: ??? The 16 is watered down and too expensive; the 12 is too expensive; they don't do IBs—maybe my best shot is one of those mystery malts that people claim to be Lagavulin.

So I guess my real "problem" is just trying to find a decent-value Lagavulin or giving up on the brand. Oh what a world.

Thanks to anyone who reads this. I find it useful to "think out loud" as it were, and I ususally find comments like this from others interesting to read—I hope I'm not alone in that.


Here are my tasting notes:

Color: Light copper

Nose: Smoked salmon on white oak, black truffles, melted liquefied Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream, chives, honey suckle, Tillamook smoked cheddar cheese, black strap rum, fresh summer morning air after a rain the night before with sunshine on the rooftops.

Palate: Fine dates, vanilla bean, Roman Candle "twinkies"; Rothschild Punch fermented cigar wrappers circa 2002, chocolate covered espresso beans, Willamette Valley pinot noir, red clay tilth, dried "old man's beard" lichen, smoked trout, alder smoked Salish salt.

Finish: Long, delightful, effortless. The meatiness of the palate smooths out into a sweet chocolatey confection, to be followed by smoke rings shooting out of Gandalf's pipe into a warm, Shire evening.

Final comments: The balance of this scotch is astonishing. I am in awe. What a privilege it has been to taste it. I only wish I had bought more bottles of this lovely. One is not enough.

Dude, I really like this whisky. No, I wasn't high on any drug other than the Lag. It delivers the goods.

I'm a JRR Tolkien fan. Love his work. As a kid, I fantasized about visiting Middle Earth.

As an adult, I fantasize that Tolkien might have been privy to some covert historical information about a previous technological age, which, by today's standards, would still seem like magic.

As A. Clarke says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Then again, Clarke, like Tolkien, might have possessed knowledge about hidden history and covert technologies that the rest of us do not know about.

HG Wells wrote two nonfiction books of merit (on the same subject). The first was called The Open Conspiracy and the second was called The New World Order. Gotta love it. Thanks for your comments, OIJas. Party on. And if you can get your hands on the 2012 Lag DE, do it.

The 2012 is a charmer. I also have a bottle of the 2013. I don't think it's supposed to be as good. I'm really loving the 2012. It's a little on the gentle side, but the depth and range of flavors is just fantastic, as I've said. I can give up some ABV for complexity like this any time


I had been meaning to put two hard hitters against each other for a while now but never got around to doing it. But tonight I had the house all to my self and figured I had no excuses.

For this epic heads up battle I chose two of my favorite cask strength whiskies from Islay: The Laphroaig Cask Strength Batch 005 and the Lagavulin 12 - 2012.

Individually they both score very high on my scale but I had never had them side to side so I never really knew which one I liked better.

Lagavulin 12 . 2012 / 56.1%

Nose: Peat butter. Smoke. Red apples. Sour (like tamarind). Lots of greens. Sharp acid like lemon citrus. Ash

Palate: Fiery peppers. Apricot. Pineapple sponge cake. Peat. Smoke. Fresh greens. Cucumber.

Finish: Long. Mint. Spice.

Nose: 22 | Palate: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 90

Laphroaig Cask Strength Batch 005 / 57.2%

Nose: Sweet. Honey. Jam. Maple. Cardboard. Red sweets. Coca Cola. Cherry licorice. Caramel. Hint of peat. Iodine.

Palate: Cherries. Black pepper. Bitter chocolate. Peat. All spice. Burnt jam. Oak.

Finish: Long. Spicy. Dark chocolate. Iodine.

Nose: 23 | Palate: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

So here's the verdict.

While the Lagavulin 12 is a quality dram the Laphroaig just manages to edge past in the nose and the overall balance of the dram. It is just that much more flavorful with hints of exotic.

The Lagavulin is raw power while the Laphroaig much easier to drink even though it's at a higher ABV. And for me that tips the scales in it's balance.

Definitely a very enjoyable match up!

I love the head-to-head comparison. Thank you for the review! I personally find that I get the most out of a whisky when I put it up against others - whether to compare similarities or to contrast differences. I haven't tried the Lagavulin 12yo (2012), but I did a similar comparison recently between the Laphroaig 10yo CS 005, Lagavulin 12yo (2010), and the Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

The Ardbeg aside, my findings are similar to yours. I think the Lagavulin is still rough around the edges at 12 years while the Laphroaig is much more balanced and easy drinking - even at a higher proof.

Thanks again for the excellent review

Thanks @Nock ! Appreciate the kind words. I've had the 2010 Laga and it's very similar in profile to the 2013 CS. So I'm guessing you'd end up with a similar result as mine.

The Corry seems to be the odd one out in this matchup.

I just got the Laph Batch 006 and the Laga 2013 CS --- that's my next matchup but I'm expecting similar findings.


APPEARANCE: Gorgeous, light yellow chartreuse. Lively and translucent. A pleasure to contemplate.

BODY: Medium bodied. Oily.

NOSE: Peaty, light smoke, hints of cream and honey. Not floral. Strong young spirit and dry, salty tobacco notes.

ON THE PALATE: The arrival is strong and sweet, giving way to peat and smoke. Development is smoky peat giving way to alcohol, the raw spirit taking over. The finish is long and smoky. Drying, strong spirit, with tobacco, salty and a hint of pepper.

WITH WATER, the raw spirit mellows out, the peat comes right to the fore, and the sweet honey notes fade to the background. I definitely prefer this at 56.1% ABV.

SUMMARY: A strong, peaty, oily dram. Gorgeous to look at, simple yet satisfying. Peaty, light smoke and saltiness, dueling with the strong young spirit and light honey notes, turning into a long smoky tobaccoey finish.

I’m not sure there’d be enough complexity at this age if the whisky were bottled at 40-43%. Probably the cask strength saves this dram. Some citrus notes, for example, would benefit it and provide a balance to the peat. According to some reviews I’ve seen, some earlier bottlings apparently had those citrus notes. But as it is, for those of us who like a strong, young peaty spirit, this should satisfy.

This is one of my favorite drams. I prefer it to the Laga 16, which to me has all the same qualities as the mighty Distillers Edition, just not in the right balance.

VALUE: In these days of the frothy scotch market, this whisky is certainly overpriced at $100. My personal feeling is that all single malts are currently overpriced by 2 or 3 times what they should be selling at. But now I’m just dreaming aloud . . . .


Lagavulin distillery was founded by John Johnston on the South shore of Islay in 1816, one year after Ardbeg distillery had been established. In 1825 Johnston acquired the nearby Ardmore distillery, and in 1837 the two distilleries were merged under the name Lagavulin by Donald Johnston. In 1852 the distillery was taken over by John Crawford Graham and passed on to James Logan Mackie & Co. in 1867. In 1878 James Logan Mackie employed his nephew Peter Mackie who took over the management and ownership of Lagavulin in 1889 and who is famous for launching the White Horse blend – of which Lagavulin single malt whisky is an important component – just one year later. The distillery went through a difficult time in the 1980s and for most of the decade only operated two days a week. Production was increased again in 1991, and today Lagavulin is one of the most beloved Islay single malts. This 12-year old was launched as one of Diageo’s special releases in 2012. It was matured in ex-Bourbon casks and bottled at 56.1%.

The nose is slightly phenolic and fruity. Light smoke is followed by lemons and hints of vanilla. I also detected brine and salt but again these were just so light and delicate.

The palate is full-bodied and peppery. Both the smoke and the lemons are much more prominent than on the nose but have now been beautifully interwoven. Burnt vegetables give the palate an additional twist. Big and mouth watering!

The finish is long and warming. Smoke is accompanied by tannic notes and again lemons and brine.

I was blown away by this 12-year old Lagavulin! A wonderfully delicate nose, followed by a mighty palate and then a satisfyingly long finish. This is what everybody is looking for in a peated whisky!


Color: remarkably light, almost as if the sun sneezed on a glass of water.

Nose: without water, alcohol burn and a little smoke. Water mellows it out a bit and brings out the maple-smoked barbecue notes familiar to fans of the 16-year. Pretty light though.

Body: medium.

Palate: without water, there's no point. Almost like drinking moonshine (with a little wood-charred sweetness in the background). Enough water mellows the burn but it is hard not to lose the distinctive flavors in the process. This is a real balancing act. I pick up many of the same flavors as can be found in the 16-year, but they're wispier, just out of reach.

Finish: long, warm, and still a little harsh. The smokiness is nice, but the sweetness pales in comparison to the 16-year.

In hindsight, I really don't know what I was thinking. This was $10 more expensive than the 16-year (currently my highest-rated whisky), and far less satisfying. Lagavulin just doesn't make sense at cask strength. It is too subtle and nuanced. Likewise, the 12-year just doesn't have the same balance. I could see buying something like this again if it were offered as a kind of entry-level Lagavulin, but this was just sort of silly. Why pay more just to have the flavor buried beneath alcohol? A big disappointment.


Our whisky club had been enjoying some beautiful whiskies at our second meeting at Helvetica. This tasting unlike our last one, was not about sweet, fruity, or floral. We were talking about big bold flavors, big bold whiskies.

My friends had started with Ardbeg Galileo and Talisker 10 Year Old, another one grabbing Aberlour Abunadh, my brother in law grabbing a Longrow, myself I'd jumped straight into Campbeltown moving into Islands and now it was time for me to move into Islay.

The reason why was because I discovered that Helvetica had a very sexy little whisky that runs hundreds of dollars, an annual release from Diego.

Lagavulin 12 year old.

What's this you say?! Lagavulin 12 year old doesn't run hundreds of dollars? You're right it doesn't!

However when I saw that they had it, it was going for $25 a dram my brain shut down and immediately started thinking Lagavulin 21 year old.

I immediately blow a gasket in excitement and know EXACTLY what my next dram is going to be.

I grab a dram of it and sit down, giggling in pleasure.

An Islay distillery I enjoy, cask strength, limited release?!

Sign me up!!

I immediately give it a nose and I smile.

Sweet peat smoke immediately hits me, which makes me look up at my brother in law and ask him if he remembers the days when a big Islay whisky's smoke was rough and harsh instead of soft and sweet as it is these days.

He agrees.

Sweet peat smoke, coal smoke, almost charcoal at times, brine, lots of brine and salt with at times lemon and some other citrus fruits, then a small amount of cocoa and spicy tobacco.

God that's nice!

Definitely worthy of a bottle that runs at several hundred dollars (mind you at this point I haven't realized that this whisky is much cheaper)

Time for a drink!

Again the peat immediately makes itself known along with some sexy smoke, vanilla, tar that reminds me of cigarettes, the cocoa makes an appearance again along with the lemon and more citrus fruits, salt, wow, just wow.

Loving it!

God this is an awesome whisky! It bloody well sucks that this is such an expensive whisky because I'd love a bottle of this.

A long drying smoky, sooty finish full of charcoal and peat ends this bloody sexy whisky. Wow. Once more wow.

I'm so lucky that they had such a hard to get whisky for sell, even at $25 a dram.

Then a couple days after this meeting I'm looking online for this bad boy, trying to see how much it will set me back and I'm oh so pleasantly surprised.

It would odds are run around $120 AUS which for this is a STEAL! I can't believe it! However I do feel a little stupid about how excited I got when I saw it and kept commenting on the price I THOUGHT it was running, makes me feel like a bit of an idiot, however I'm so happy that I got a chance to try it.

Would I pay $25 a dram for it again? I doubt it. A whisky has to be rare, stupidly so for me to pay more then $20 a dram, but if you ever get a chance to try it, do so!!!

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